Ever since I caught him live at LesFest last year, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to catch Scottish blues man Dave Arcari. It’s definitely blues but it’s the sort of angry, raw, stripped down blues that can only come from the land of Whisky and midgies.
Young (and indeed not so young) bands complaining about how hard life is should take a leaf out of Mr. Arcari’s book, he seems to be constantly on tour and although he will never be mainstream he has a following all across Europe… and further afield. His LesFest performance last year came two days before he jetted off for a substantial tour of America.
Well if it’s good enough for the land that gave the world the blues then it’s good enough for CackBlabbath, So, a Saturday night jaunt across the Pennines was in order where the Fallow Cafe was the latest stop on the current tour.
The Fallow Cafe is one of those really neat little venues, a small-ish room with great sound and a decent crowd. This is the sort of place where the Blues was born (OK, maybe not in Manchester !!) and for musucuans like Dave it’s their natural environment as he can get up close and personal… whether the crowd like it or not !
This is about as stripped down as a gig gets, just one bloke and a selection of guitars. There was a new addition Dave’s tools of the trade this time around. There are usually three guitars, a steel one (named “the shiny one”), a solid body electric one (named “the electric one”) and a dirty sounding growling black beast that seems to bring out the worst in everyone. Tonight there was something else too, named, as sound engineers who have tried to set the levels for it have christened it, the fucking Banjo.
Setlist wise it was pretty much from the “route 1” Blues rulebook. Hangman’s Blues, Whisky In My Blood, Cherry Wine, there’s a theme emerging here and it’s certainly not deep and philosophical. There’s also an excellent Arcari-ified cover of the late, great Johnny Cash’s classic Blue Train… Introduced with typical humour, Dave recounted how he first tackled the song at the request of the BBC inspite of the fact that, as he put it, “You may have noticed, I sound fuck all like Johnny Cash”.
There are few performers as engaging as Dave Arcari. The route to the smoking area in the cafe went through the room where the gig was, and a good many of the student types heading outside for a fag were on the receiving end of some good natured banter from Dave, asking them where they were going and why they weren’t staying to watch.
Not sure they quite knew how to take the sweaty, shouty Scottish bloke.
He did threaten to join them out on the cancer veranda too.. a promise he made good on in mid song, leaving the stage and following the slightly bemused punters out onto the balcony. I’m not ENTIRELY sure what these folk had on their agenda for the evening, but I’m guessing it wasn’t a frankly intimidating personal performance.
As Dave said, he’d be taking his life in his hands trying that in Glasgow.
If you get the chance to go see Dave Arcari then you really should take it, he’s constantly on tour so you probably won’t have to wait long before he pops into a venue near you to play some tunes, tell some tales and (maybe) indulge in a wee dram or two.